The COP26 climate conference in Glasgow was billed as the world’s best last chance to address climate change, saving the planet from a ‘death sentence’ rise in temperatures.
There was a mixed reaction to the final agreement reached at the end of the long, hard negotiation process - along with a number of concurrent commitments to change. Yes, it included an unprecedented reference to the contribution made by fossil fuels to the climate crisis, along with pledges to end deforestation by 2030. However many still feel it did not go far enough so that real environmental change can be delivered.
This still leaves many questions unanswered about exactly how rising temperatures will impact on our daily lives. While the debate rages on towards COP27 in Cairo, companies such as CGI – and indeed vibrant networks such as AccelerateHER - are busy providing the answers, and also working collaboratively to make a positive difference themselves.
CGI’s ‘answers’ come from data generated by satellites hundreds of miles above us in space, designed specifically to monitor the environment as it stands today. And it achieves them through its GeoData360 Earth Observation Platform.
This platform leverages data from the European Space Agency’s Copernicus Satellite Earth Observation Mission, and uses specific algorithms to forecast more accurately than ever before how our future environment will look.
It’s called a digital twin approach – a dynamic, high resolution reconstruction of the Earth and its complex processes. The development of digital twins helps us understand the state of the environment, forecast events and test new ways of doing things.
An example of what this can achieve was announced by CGI at the start of COP26. CGI is joining forces with Project Seagrass, an environmental charity devoted to the conservation of seagrass ecosystems, to ensure that the benefits seagrass meadows provide communities are sustained not just now but also well into the future.
Seagrass is a plant that lives in shallow waters along our coastline. But it also stores carbon 35 times more efficiently than rainforests, as well as being an important nursery for fish such as cod and endangered species like seahorses. Yet seagrass is under threat from coastal development, pollution and damage from human activity in the marine environment.
Going forwards, earth observation insights from satellites will advance the conversation of seagrass ecosystems. This process will begin in space, with CGI’s GeoData 360 platform processing earth observation data using a seagrass identification algorithm that is being developed to locate and quantify seagrass meadows across the UK.
It’s essentially an automated seagrass mapping tool that can survey the entirety of the UK in minutes – including Scotland, where huge quantities of seagrass also exist along our coastline.
This quantified data source will then be used by Project Seagrass to aid conversation and local activities to preserve and restore seagrass – increasing Co2 consumption through improving the health and volume of this important carbon ‘sink’ along our coastline.
This is a prime example of collaboration that drives not only further hi-tech innovation but also a data-driven fully automated way of generating real-time environmental benefits. This is a collaboration that is shared by AccelerateHER, whose awards also shine a light on environmental issues and successes.
However, CGI’s commitment to the environment does not end there. CGI’s UK offices, including its locations across Scotland - Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and the Scottish Borders - are also committed to initiatives such as the Race to Zero, which sees CGI promise to achieve net-zero by 2026. Indeed, CGI has received validation for its Science Based Targets in line with the Paris Agreement. CGI is also encouraging its supply chain and other companies it works with to understand their own carbon emissions and make sure they have plans to reduce them.
COP26 in Glasgow focused minds on achieving real environmental change like never before. CGI has brought its innovative skills in technology on board and is using it to help reshape our lives – and our environment – for the better. Through data-driven solutions such as the collaboration with Project Seagrass, CGI is doing its bit to aid the recovery of our amazing planet.
Lyndsey Teaz is CGI’s business leader for Scotland. Founded in 1976, CGI is among the largest independent IT and business consulting services firms in the world, with 78,000 consultants and other professionals across the globe. It employs 500 people in Scotland, with offices in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and the Scottish Borders.